So Grateful! A Note from Last Year, Western Illinois University

I am so happy to be able to share like this. I sometimes (not too often) search myself on Google. And I just saw this. 

“Rykas books give LGBTQ individuals a voice; a chance to speak up over their oppression. Rykas ability to articulate her inner feelings shows an in-depth mastery over the written word. The enthusiasm with which she reads suggest a passion for the topics she writes about. There were moments within her readings where members of her audience were moved to tears. There were other moments in which they laughed out loud. In just one hour, Ryka Aoki managed to command the attention of everyone in the room. No one was checking their cell phones. No one was looking at their watch. For a full hour, a room full of college students was fully engaged. This is quite an accomplishment in todays world.”

Thank you again, so much to Western Illinois University, and to Merrill Cole. And to Hali Pace, the writer of this piece.

<3

Ryka

 

 

Visiting Northern Arizona University! :)

imgres-1So, this February, I was at Northern Arizona University. I had an excellent time–but gosh, it was my first reading after the election (I chose not to attend the AWP–more on that in another post). I was struck by how resilient and brave the students and the faculty at NAU are–but stunned that at a time when we should be celebrating and nurturing our best and brightest, we are forcing them to fight for their identities, their voices, and even their safety.

This is not an indictment of a school, or a locality–but a bigger problem we seem to have as a country–why do we distrust our young?  Why do we see them as competitors, as other–when they should be seen as our legacy? As a teacher, this simply befuddles me.

But, yes, the students at NAU, and the faculty, and the people I hung out with… I was treated with so much kindness and gratitude. And I return that. Thank you so much!

 

:)
Ryka

 

Matador Review Interview and a bit More

Hi All,

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So, yes, the Matador Review asked me to chat with them, and gosh, we covered so many things! I really enjoyed this interview because it covered some different ground, and I’m in a different place in my life–so it’s neat to see how my answers and thoughts are evolving and refining with time. The interview is here (http://www.matadorreview.com/ryka-aoki), and it there are also other excellent interviews, literature, and images.

I think a big difference between now and previous interviews is that I am a lot more alone than I was before, and am thinking much more on how community functions to cultivate its own artists. Not all artists can do it alone, and though they are admirable, being a self-sufficient warrior should not be a prerequisite to developing and thriving as an artist. There is room for all experiences.

Or there should be.

<3
Ryka

March 25 Story Slam

It is has been a very busy time! This afternoon, I am going to be part of this!

http://grandparkla.org/event/proud-story-slam/

Part of Grand Park’s ongoing PROUD Series celebrating LGBTQ L.A., the PROUD Story Slam  presents narratives about how Los Angeles connects us no matter who we are or whom we love. From L.A. gay rights pioneers to Angeleno trans comedians, hear amazing stories that transcend geography, generation, gender, race and background. Be prepared to laugh and perhaps even shed a tear.

Please come by! Thank you!!!!
Ryka

Lambda Lit Fest! March 10

I have been a little behind on the posts. But, Lambda Literary has been working very hard on its first literary festival, right here in Los Angeles. Today, I have the honor of sitting on a panel with Bernard CooperD’LoWendy C. OrtizClaudia Rodríguez and Terry Wolverton.

“In many ways, California has been the leader in the nation for LGBTQ rights, and Los Angeles has been one of the centers for this activism. This Lambda LitFest LA Panel brings together six luminary LA-based writers to express their definition of what is quintessentially LA. Each writer will share some of their work, and then they will discuss what defines the queer literary landscape of LA, how the long-standing history of queer folks in cinema/Hollywood has affected the writing and culture of Los Angeles, and how diversity has shaped our city and the LGBTQ movement. Moderated by Alex Espinoza and followed by a Q/A.”

The interesting thing about poems is one never misses the piece that has never been written. Yet once written, it can seem as it the world could never have existed without it. I think the same thing may go for this festival. It will become a vital, needed part of Los Angeles, and the Queer Literature community. <3 So honored to be part of it.

 

Much love, Ryka

Thank you so much to UMass

Last month I had the honor of visiting UMass Amherst to inaugurate their trans speakers series. I had a wonderful time speaking with different classes on issues of gender, postcolonialism, queer theory, and writing practice.

I watched the autumn leaves change. I had an impromptu sushi lunch, and met some awesome people!

Here’s the writeup for my reading/lecture. :) 

“Students and faculty attend talk with trans author-activist Ryka Aoki” from The Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Thank you so very much!

<3

Ryka

Thank You to The James Franco Review

The James Franco Review just posted an essay I wrote. It was not an easy essay for me to write. However I am so grateful to have the chance to write it. 

<3

Ryka

 

He Mele A Hilo shows up in Vela! :D

This morning, I woke up to a bunch of tweets about an article from the wonderful Trish Salah on Six Debut Novels by Trans Women. :) And I found He Mele A Hilo on the list. I am really happy to be on this list, with some amazing authors.  

Thank you to Trish and to Vela!

<3

Ryka

1. Ryka Aoki, He Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song

Ryka Aoki’s He Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song is a gorgeously rambling ensemble tale of postcolonial living in Hawaii, which is by turns meditative and sorrowful— but mostly comic, verging on hilarious. In fact, Aoki had me laughing before I’d even begun to read the story proper, with the Mahalo! that welcomes the reader, not without irony: “Use the Glossary at the back of the book and soon you’ll feel like a local!”

★ A Starred Review from Library Journal!

Library Journal ”is the most trusted and respected publication for the library community. Built on more than a century of quality journalism and reviews, LJ provides groundbreaking features and analytical news reports covering technology, management, policy and other professional concerns to public, academic and institutional libraries.”

Library Journal has been around for 140 years. And this past June–it reviewed Seasonal Velocities and gave it a starred review! I am so honored!

★ Aoki, Ryka. Seasonal Velocities. Trans-Genre. 2012. 139p. ISBN 9780985110505. pap. $14.95.
This collection of poems, stories, speeches, and performance art is passionate and evocative. All of Aoki’s works have been stunning; an excellent introduction.

As other writers, I work very, very hard to put my best work on the page, and when my words can touch a reader–that is the best feeling.

Thank you so much to Library Journal, and to everyone who has enjoyed Seasonal Velocities.

<3

Ryka

PS–For any libraries or bookstores, Seasonal Velocities should now be a lot easier to acquire, as it is being distributed by Ingram. You can also just get it from Amazon.

PPS–Yes, I am working on another book of essays to address whats been happening since my first book appeared. <3  More news in Summer/Fall 2017.

Being a Fiction Editor for The James Franco Review :)

I enjoyed being the guest fiction editor for Issue 8! Here’s my intro to the section. 

Take good care!
Ryka